Vatican seeks 'courageous' ideas to combat priest shortage

The Vatican is calling for courageous proposals to cope with a shortage of priests in the Amazon, and says Catholic leaders must also identify new "official ministries" for women in the region.

The preparatory document for the Vatican's 2019 meeting on the Amazon is by no means suggesting that women be ordained priests, which Catholic doctrine forbids.

But it leaves open the door to making official some ministries that women currently perform, including celebrating baptisms. And it calls for "new ways" to increase access to the Eucharist, a hint that the Vatican is encouraging debate over whether married men of proven virtue — so-called viri probati — can celebrate Mass when priests are in short supply.

The document released Friday seeks proposals from bishops for debate during the Amazon synod.